Norman Mineta announces the Centennial Education Fund campaign during the JACL Sayonara Gala, held virtually from July 15-18.

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) announced the launch of the JACL Centennial Education Fund at its 51st National Convention to solidify its position as the leading Asian American voice telling the story of the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II and to secure its future such that the lessons from this tragic chapter of U.S. history will always be remembered.

As the oldest and the largest Asian American civil rights organization, JACL is uniquely positioned to tell the tragic story of the Japanese American incarceration, the injustice for all those who were affected, the valor of those Japanese Americans who served in 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion and Military Intelligence Services, etc., and most importantly, the lessons to be shared and learned by not only Japanese Americans, but by all Americans.

More recently, with over 5,000 anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents committed against innocent Asian Americans around the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more urgent and imperative that JACL redoubles its efforts in educating the American people about the painful lessons we learned as a community during World War II.

It is with this objective in mind that the JACL is launching this fundraising campaign to shore up JACL’s position in fulfilling its mission by providing those critically important educational programs, tools and resources managed or supported by the JACL National Council and National Board, such as teacher’s training workshops, curriculum guide, “Power of Words,” documentary films, etc. 

“Deni and I are delighted to serve as the chairs of the JACL Centennial Education Fund Honorary Committee,” said former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. “As a camp survivor myself, I know from my personal experience the importance of sharing lessons like this through education, such that no Americans will have to suffer from such injustice in the future like I did when I was a teenager.”

Mineta outlined the goals of JACL Centennial Education Fund during remarks at the Sayonara Gala.

“The Centennial Education Fund campaign will raise the resources to ensure that JACL meets its mission to promote education about the Japanese American experience as a civil rights story important to key issues today. We will achieve this by funding three core areas,” Mineta said.

“First we will expand the staff. The JACL staff right now is but a third of the size of the staff we had years ago. Already following this convention, we will be adding a new communications and education staff role. 

“To help raise the profile of JACL nationally, we will develop a new video, ‘Our League of Dreams,’ which will help to tell the story of JACL’s past, present, and future.

“With the support of new staff and the Education Committee led by Carol Kawamoto, we will recommit the focus of the organization to its core education mission including the promoting the instruction of Japanese American history in schools with curriculum support and most importantly, a robust teacher training program. And this we will do this by building on the Greg Marutani Education Fund.”

JACL National President Jeffrey Moy said, “This ambitious campaign is critically important for the JACL to redouble our efforts in providing educational opportunities and materials so that the United States of America can become a more perfect union for all Americans, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.”

Teacher training workshop at Manzanar National Historic Site.

JACL Executive Director David Inoue added, “I am very excited, having watched this fundraising campaign from its inception to the launch today. We have a talented and committed staff and board of directors whose hard work and dedication will ensure a successful campaign to carry JACL into our next century as a nationally leading civil rights organization.”

Carol Kawamoto, chair of the JACL National Education Committee, said, “As an educator myself, I know the power of education in broadening people’s perspective every single day. I applaud and wholeheartedly support this fundraising campaign and we need to do more to educate the American public on the lessons we learned as a community.”

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to lead the JACL Centennial Education Fund campaign,” David Lin, JACL vice president for planning and development, notes, “We will raise the much-needed funds to sustain the JACL in furthering its mission to educate Americans about the tragic lessons of Japanese American incarceration during World War II, and in envisioning the next 100 years of civil rights in America, so future generations of Americans will be able to live in a more inclusive and more accepting society.”

If you have any questions regarding this fundraising campaign, contact Lin at dlin@jacl.org.

For more information or to contribute to the Centennial Education Fund Campaign, visit www.jacl.org/centennial.

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